Transcript of Pelosi Interview on MSNBC’s Live with Stephanie Ruhle
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Stephanie Ruhle on MSNBC's Live to discuss the Administration’s handling of intelligence indicating that Russia placed bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the latest on the Congressional response to the coronavirus pandemic and other news of the day. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Stephanie Ruhle. I want to bring in the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi because, in just about two hours, the key group of bipartisan congressional leaders known as the Gang of Eight will be briefed by the Trump Administration officials, getting an update on reports that Russia offered cash bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
This morning’s meeting comes as President Trump makes his first public comments about those reports. And I want to get into it with the Speaker of the House. Speaker, thank you so much for joining me this morning.
So much going on. What are you expecting in your meeting later this morning?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, hopefully we will get the truth.
The fact is that force protection, protecting our troops, is the first responsibility of intelligence. And that there would be this idea that there would be a bounty on our troops paid by the Russians to the Taliban is something that was so necessary to be pursued. Why would they have not told the President? Because he doesn't like to get bad news on Russia. And, again, why haven't they taken action these months later?
So when we hear from them today, hopefully, there will be a level of participation that knows the facts and that we will have a Gang of Eight that is open to the truth.
Stephanie Ruhle. But how confident are you on that level of participation? The President himself keeps calling all of this a hoax and has said nothing about Vladimir Putin or Russia or possible sanctions, if the President even learns more about it. Just hoax town.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, his hoax. He uses a hoax because he'll say this is a hoax, and it's a hoax that they are 24/7 trying to disrupt our election, as they did in 2016. He says that coronavirus is a hoax. The fact is the President himself is a hoax.
So, let's recognize – now, let's hope that the Gang of Eight shows up open to hear the truth, the facts, the intelligence, and to – that Moscow Mitch doesn't show up, but the Chairman, the Leader of the Republicans in the Senate, comes with an open mind.
I will say this about that: the White House has done a con on saying, ‘Well, because all of the agencies of intelligence have not signed off on this, it wasn't worthy of the President's attention.’ No, the death of our young people in Afghanistan, or any place, is worthy of the President's attention, even if it's caused by his friend Vladimir Putin. We have to come out of this with sanctions, additional sanctions on Russia.
Now, at the President's insistence, when we did the sanctions on Russia before, he insisted that Congress pull back on the sanctions in the intelligence and defense sectors of Russia. It's time for us to roll those back out. Congress acceded to his wish in that regard, instituted sanctions but did not include intelligence and defense. Those have to be reinstituted.
Stephanie Ruhle. Then what tools do you have at your disposal, in the House, to do something to punish Russia for this behavior. Are there Republicans you can count on to get on board here?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, the Republicans have been, you know, shining the shoes of the President the whole time, House and Senate. It's most unfortunate.
You just wonder what the President would be thinking if this kind of intelligence had come forth about any other country. But every time it's Russia, as I’ve said over and over, with this President, all roads lead to Putin, whether it's undermining our election, yielding to them in Syria, whether it's weakening our allegiance to NATO, whether it's ignoring the annexation of Crimea, whether it's invading eastern Ukraine, the list goes on and on.
And, by the way, at the same time as the President was aware of this intelligence, he was trying to get Russia to be back in the G-7 to make it the G-8 again. They were ousted because of the annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine, et cetera. And the President was ignoring this and not only not pursuing the intelligence, but pursuing Russia being part of the G-7, now back to G-8.
So something is wrong with this picture. As I’ve said, what is it that the Russians have on this President politically, personally or financially that has this behavior on part of the Commander-in-Chief?
But, forgetting that for a moment, let's talk about our men and women in uniform. Force protection: that is the purpose of intelligence. The first priority of intelligence is to protect them, and if there are – there is reasonable intelligence to suspect all of this, we don't find an excuse not to pursue it, as this White House has done. Just thinking of the families of those affected and the rest, we owe them so much more.
Stephanie Ruhle. In your words, ‘All roads may lead to Russia,’ but that's not a road the President likes to go down. He's having a press conference in just a few minutes. And, while we don't know details, I can say with relative confidence, it's going to be about the economy.
We just saw almost five million jobs come back in June. That's a big positive, however, that is still only 34 percent of all the jobs lost in this pandemic. As someone who is pushing to extend jobless benefits and more stimulus, how do you read this report?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, first of all, let’s get the whole report. What we also saw, this is the fifteenth straight week where we have seen over one million people apply for unemployment benefits.
This report is a report of the first part of June where the economy was opening up, unfortunately, not successfully. And I think, when we see the whole month of June, sadly, it will show a different figure. We're all for, you know, great news when there's a good jobs report, but let's see it in its proper perspective.
There is no question that we need more stimulus. Just don't take it from me, take it from the Chairman of the Fed, from the Secretary of the Treasury. In terms of the Fed, if we don't invest in terms of opening up the economy by testing, tracing, treatment, if we don't honor our heroes by putting resources into states and localities, if we don't do the direct payments, put money in the pockets of the American people, direct payments as well as Unemployment Insurance, we’re going to be in a worse economic situation.
And, by the way, the unemployment rate now is the worst – worse than any time since World War II. You know, of this whole period, has been terrible and this, still, this level is still worse than any time since World War II.
So, this is –
Stephanie Ruhle. Absolutely. Of course.
Speaker Pelosi. We have to open the economy, but it's related to health. And again, he calls the coronavirus a ‘hoax,’ ‘It's going to disappear,’ ‘It's going to be magical,’ ‘miracle’ or something.
As I say, this virus is efficient; this President is not.
Stephanie Ruhle. As long as we have this health crisis, we're going to face this economic crisis, and we need more stimulus. But with that stimulus, we need oversight. The House has passed the PPP extension, which helps small businesses, but in that language, there is no specific oversight language. And there is still no chair appointed to the Congressional Oversight Committee. Where do we stand on this? Because every single day, another story crosses about really questionable money given out to businesses that don't make a whole lot of sense.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, the legislation that came over to the House yesterday was from the Senate, and they would not put oversight provisions in the bill. In our proposal, we have provisions for the data to be revealed, A, and B, a carve out of 25 percent for small businesses ten employees and under.
They wouldn't go to that place. The Republicans in the House would not give us unanimous consent to add that to the bill. They also stood in the way of us having a truth bill when we did PPP before, when we extended the period. And they stood in the way of our getting that. But it is in the Heroes legislation, the need for the data.
Now, a couple of days ago in the Financial Services Committee hearing, the Chair of the Small Business Committee, Nydia Velázquez, held the Secretary of Treasury accountable, and he said he would give us some data by Friday. But they've been saying, ‘by Friday’ week in and week out.
Why are they not revealing the facts? And again, in previous legislation as well as in The Heroes Act, we have a call, a demand, a requirement that they reveal on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, on a regular basis the amounts, the number of loans and also the data as to who was getting this.
In addition to that, I think it's really important to your point about the chair, we have come to agreement over who the chair is. It is now awaiting the final approval in the Senate. But for a long time now, we have agreed. And that's really important – an important point that you make. I think people will be proud of the decision that we've made.
Stephanie Ruhle. Who is it?
Speaker Pelosi. Let me just say one more thing.
We also, in the House, appointed our Committee on the Coronavirus to see where this money is going, chaired by Mr. Clyburn. So, every Thursday, they have a hearing pursuing the facts in all of this as to where this money is going, how it is spent.
Stephanie Ruhle. Okay, hold on a second. They have a hearing every week, but every single day, we ask the Treasury and the SBA for all of the information about PPP, including the tiniest of loans, and we're not getting it.
Your fellow Congresswoman Katie Porter is calling on the head of the SBA to step down because of malpractice. Do you agree with her?
Speaker Pelosi. I think the President should step down because of dereliction of duty.
Stephanie Ruhle. Okay, he's not going to do that.
Speaker Pelosi. But the fact is the committees of jurisdiction, Small Business, Nydia Velázquez, Financial Services, Maxine Waters, have been on this case all along. And it is the responsibility, after all is said and done, of the Secretary of the Treasury to honor the spirit and the letter of the law of our support for small businesses.
And we have in our bill extending until December 31st. So, we recognize that more time is needed. They go to August 8th, a recognition that we must pass The Heroes Act so that all of this, with the reporting and the rest, takes place.
It's no use sluffing off an employee of the President; it’s holding the President of the United States accountable for this. And the top person in that regard is the Secretary of the Treasury who says we'll get the numbers by this Friday. As I said earlier, that's an every Friday kind of thing, but you're absolutely right.
And you know, when we ask about this in relation to data, in relationship to small business or in relationship to the coronavirus and the undue impact that it has on communities of color, and we say, ‘We want the data,’ and they say, ‘Do you know how hard it is to do that?’ So, we want the data.
And so if we don't have that transparency, if we don't have the evidence-based decision making about what has worked and how we go forward, we're doing a great disservice and not being as effective as we need to be.
As I've said, this virus which is having a terrible toll on our economy and more importantly on the health of the American people is a very effective, very efficient, deadly virus. I wish the President were efficient as well.
Stephanie Ruhle. Wow. Well, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts this morning, Speaker Pelosi.
Speaker Pelosi. My pleasure. Thank you. Thank you, Stephanie.